It was my first break in over six hours and I was determined to drink it all in. I was sprawled out across my couch in the doctor's lounge, remote in hand to stop any idiot from stealing it and changing the channel. My favorite soap was on and no way in hell was I missing it today. I was still trying to get caught back up on the drama I had missed from yesterday's episode, courtesy of an oh-so-charming rest home patient who had decided that his heart just had to turn off five minutes in. Damn geezer. And if Bobbo had a problem with me taking an entire half hour off to watch this, well, I didn't actually care.
The lounge was mostly empty but I could feel a pair of eyes on me from the table behind my couch. I ignored it, as usual, but that didn't make it any less annoying. As usual.
When the commercial break had come and the staring hadn't gotten any less intense, I said loudly, "You know, Alice, you keep on staring at me like that I'm gonna have to go ahead and think you've developed a little schoolgirl crush. And I really hope you haven't 'cause I re-he-heally don't wanna have to break your heart by telling you that I just do nawt share in your puppy love and, by gum, I already got a date to the homecoming dance. But it's okay, don't you go home and binge yourself on that chocolate-on-chocolate-with-chocolate ice cream you've got stashed in the back of the freezer just for this because then you'll lose your pretty little figure and you'll just never get a lover that way."
As I had been talking Newbie had gathered up a stack of paperwork and came around to sit on the other couch. He was mostly out of my range of vision there but it still meant that tingly feeling I get on the back of my neck when people are watching me would be even worse. How on earth was I supposed to focus on Addie's twisted love life if I constantly felt like my neck was itching? I titled my head to glare effectively at him, but he ignored my irritation. As usual.
"Hush, Laura, my show's back on," I said indifferently and turned the volume up just slightly. Newbie mercifully took the hint and returned to the paperwork he'd brought with him, only glancing at me occasionally now. He was obediently quiet until the next commercial.
"Why does someone like you watch shows like this? I thought you hated drama."
"No, Marie, I hate your drama. Buh-hig difference. And by someone like me, what do you mean exactly? Fantastic? A genius? God-like? Puh-lease, do elaborate."
Newbie was shifting on the couch and I could tell he was getting annoyed by the fact I hadn't turned to actually look at him yet. "No, I mean you pretend to be this hard ass guy with no emotions but you watch all these shows with the drama and sob stories that you complain about constantly in real life."
Here we go with the fun. There was no way Claudia was letting this one go until she got an answer. "First off," I said, swinging myself into a sitting position to focus him in my stare. He squirmed, apparently now wishing I had stayed laying down. As usual. "I don't pretend. It's just what I am. And secondly, this show is the oh-honly thing that keeps me from killing you, your gal pals, and myself for good measure on a daily basis. This show, it's like this place only worse. You see, there's the overly-confident guy who's actually as dumb as a rock but somehow convinced a saucy woman to marry him. That's Gumball. Then there's the evil superior with a dozen mistresses and the soul, or lack thereof, of satan. Beezlebob. The mildly psychotic blonde who has somehow slept with eh-he-hevery man at the hospital and almost gotten married a half dozen times before flaking out at the last second and sleeping with her fall-back lesbian lover. That'd be Barbie. The more-than-mildly insane man-eater. Jordan. And of course the stunningly handsome and intelligent man who is stuck in the middle of it all but still somehow manages to be, well, fabulous. Me."
Newbie didn't even pause in asking the next question. "What about me?"
I glanced at the screen and saw that the show had resumed. "That's you," I said, nodding in the direction of the television. The screen showed a lanky, dark-haired teenage girl, whining about being ignored by her boyfriend and clearly suffering from delusions of grandeur among other things. Before Newbie could say anything I shushed him so I could watch and laid back down, making myself comfortable once more.
The moment the commercials appeared again, his mouth was open. "That didn't really explain it," Newbie said and the curiosity in his voice was only too evident. "I mean if you want to kill us all, why watch a show with the characters like us? Doesn't that make it worse?"
"Were you nawt listening to what I said?" I asked, shifting my head to stare at him without having to sit up. Sure, I was staring upside-down which might be more comical than berating but I was mostly just ready for this conversation to be over. So much for enjoying my break. Why did this channel have to have so many commercial breaks? "I said this show was like this place, only worse. See the great thing is that no matter how terribly obnoxious this place gets and how overly-dramatic and devastatingly complicated your little lives are, these people got you beat. So whenever I am getting frustrated to the breaking point of this place and want to go on a mad killing spree, I sit down to this and watch and realize that as horrible as it is being tailed by idiots like you every day, it could be worse. Well, you might be just as annoying as the girl who's so much like you on the show, but at least it makes me hate everyone else a little less."
Newbie seemed completely unbothered by the raving, which sort of aggravated me. I put a lot of effort into those rants, the least he could do was summon up a decent reaction even if he was used to hearing them by now. "Must be cool watching people like us on tv," he said, his voice starting to take on that tone he got when he was about to drift off into his little unicorn-infested fantasy world. "I wonder what it'd be like if they made a tv show out of our lives." And there he went, head tilted and eyes glazed over. I rolled my eyes, turning back to the television. Damn, still commercials. "He could totally play me, we have the same dreamy hair."
"No, Chelsea, they would nawt get Patrick Dempsey to play you," I said. Newbie's surprise told me I had guessed right. So predictable. Although come to think of it, it was more than just a little bit creepy that I knew him well enough to predict what was going on in that deluded, rainbow-filled, product-soaked brain of his. Shake it off, Perry. "You know who I think should play you?" Hesitant silence. "Hugh Jackman."
"Hugh Jackman?" Newbie asked, obviously confused. "Why? I thought you hated Hugh Ja – oh. Ha ha, very funny. He could be me because you hate both of us."
"Figure that out all on your own, did ya?" I remarked, pretending to watch the commercial for some diet breakfast cereal. What a load of bull. "Now, Josee, why don't you scamper on back to the other pussycats now that you're all sad and scared because I know that thing between your legs could only be a tail since it's obviously not a penis."
Newbie gave as much of a scowl as he could usually muster but gathered up his papers and crossed the room. He paused at the door. "It is a penis, you know," he said as if it was some witty comeback.
"Hmm, well that'll be difficult to explain to your boyfriend, won't it?" I asked without bothering to look at him.
There was a moment more silence while Newbie hesitated in the doorway. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him suddenly grinning. "Hey Dr. Cox, did you happen to notice that the character you think is like you happens to be the adoptive father of the character you think is like me?" he asked and there was a triumphant smile on his face.
"In your dreams, Margaret," I answered with a heavy sigh, pretending to be wholly bored of the conversation. Newbie waited a moment longer, blurted out, "Coincidence? I think not!" and then finally left. It wasn't until I knew the kid was far away that I allowed myself a small smile. For being such a girl, he sure picked up on some things pretty fast. The music alerted me to the fact that the commercials had finally ended and I relaxed back, eager to get into the show again. The girl who reminded me of Newbie had just been kidnapped by a strange man and I needed to know what happened.
Beep, beep, beep, beep.